Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Headstand Lotus; or, why you should keep practicing even if enlightenment is a scam

I've noticed that I haven't written about my daily practice for a while, so I'll start with a practice report. I did full primary and second up to pincha mayurasana this morning.

During the first two or three Surya As, I felt this "off" sensation in my left SI joint. But I recalled Kino's words on engaging the bandhas and firmly grounding the feet during forward bends (see this video), and the sensation went away by the end of the Suryas: Another small proof that the practice, if done mindfully, can heal and strengthen.

I stumbled while getting into Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, and had to step back to Samasthihi, and get into the posture all over again (I was on my mysore rug, so no sticky mat to blame this time. Bummer :-))

The rest of the practice was energizing, refreshing and pleasant. In the finishing sequence, I had a little breakthrough with getting into padmasana upside down. In shoulderstand, I succeeded in getting my legs into padmasana without using my hands. Which wasn't really that surprising, as I had been able to achieve this on and off for the last couple of weeks.

And then I decided on the spur on the moment to try to replicate the same feat in headstand. I bent my right knee, succeeded in closing my knee joint completely (yay!). I then moved my right foot into the left hip crease, and moved my left foot on top of my right thigh... and voila, I was in padmasana in headstand! My hips felt a lot more open in headstand than in shoulderstand, and the lotus was easier to get into here than in shoulderstand. I think that's probably because my hips had already been "warmed up" from getting into padmasana in shoulderstand. The headstand lotus felt light and easy. Probably didn't look anything as spectacular as Grimmly's Water Lotus, but hey, I take what I can :-) Can't ask for too much in my first headstand lotus in more than a year, can I? :-) And oh, I have no spectacular pictures to show you here; it didn't occur to me to take a picture of myself :-)

So I succeeded in getting into padmasana in headstand without blowing my knees out. What does this mean? Well, if you have been following my adventures in (not)splitting over the past month or so, this means that I am a lot closer to getting karandavasana: In fact, if I had wanted to this morning, I could have lifted my head off the ground into pincha mayurasana, and then try to lower my knees to my upper arms (which, for those of you who are not doing second series, gets one into karandavasana). But I decided not to push things too far: There is a Chinese saying, "Things go in the opposite direction if one pushes too much." (物极必反, if you read Chinese).

This may also apply to the greater goal of yoga practice, enlightenment. In her latest post, Claudia writes:

"I think I am beginning to get it. There is no enlightenment, it is a scam.

We can move closer to identifying with the right thing, the pure consciousness that inhabits no space."

I have to admit that I found what she wrote here rather baffling the first time I read this. I mean, if enlightenment is a scam, if there is no such thing as enlightenment, then what would moving closer to pure consciousness amount to? Very puzzling, don't you think?

But here's my humble take on this: Perhaps this is puzzling only if we think that enlightenment is some kind of end-point, some kind of ultimate state in the practice where everything just kind of comes to a permanent stillness.

But maybe it is neither possible nor desirable to attain this permanent stillness. Perhaps reality is something that is changing moment to moment, like a river that flows endlessly. And just as one can never step into the same river twice, one can also never see the same time-slice of reality twice. To attain pure consciousness, then, is not to see something as never-changing, but to have the ability to see reality clearly in its ever-changing moment-to-moment flux, and to move and act from moment to moment in accordance with what one sees. This applies whether one is trying to decide what to do at a given moment in one's asana practice, or whether one is trying to navigate the stirring currents of life's vicissitudes.

At any rate, these are the randoms musings of a finite being trying to navigate the river of conditioned existence. I'll leave you with something here. Enjoy!

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